Our skin is constantly turning over dead cells, growing new tissue from the inside out. The layer on the outside is where dead skin builds up, and our bodies can usually remove most of it with natural processes when skin is healthy, moisturized, and regularly cared for. When it builds up, some problems can be caused that result in long-term consequences, like deep wrinkles, skin congestion, hair loss, or a dull, dry look.
Since our skin types are different, everyone’s exfoliation needs will be individual, and will depend on the level of buildup you need to remove on a regular basis, but most people will want a light exfoliation mixed into their routine every couple of days. Understanding what happens when you don’t exfoliate can help you recognize the signs of how you might need to adjust your own skincare routine.
Our bodies naturally process dead skin cells and push them out, but they don’t always fall off as intended. Buildup in the face can constrain blood flow and nutrients to other areas, further solidifying dry and dull skin. An exfoliation routine, followed by a moisturizer, removes dead skin evenly and suppresses the development of wrinkles and other problems caused by buildup of dead skin.
Drier skin types may notice more flaking, which can cause problems with skin evenness and wrinkle development. When skin chips off unevenly, new skin grows over areas where dead skin has fallen off, but some has remained. This shows up most often around our eyes, in the corners of our mouths, and on the forehead.
An oily skin type has its own problems with dead cells, being that they may stick to the skin. Unexfoliated oily skin can hold in buildup, and rather than encouraging wrinkles, this skin type may be more acne- or blackhead-prone. Skin that produces a lot of oil might need deeper exfoliation than dry skin to remove buildup that can sit deep in the epidermis.
Normal or mixed skin types may need to find which areas might get drier than others. Our bodies need to be exfoliated as well, but dead skin is usually removed during showers more easily than on our faces. Breakouts do happen on the body, so trying these strategies on problem areas might help. Talking to your dermatologist will get you the right kind of treatment for problems on body skin, which is tougher and less delicate than the skin on your face.
Even though different skin types will generally need different approaches to exfoliation, everyone’s own skin will need a level of abrasion. Speaking with your dermatologist before taking on a new skincare routine is recommended so that you get the products that are most appropriate for your skin, which will be most effective in keeping it clear and even. For people with existing skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or moderate to severe acne, check with your dermatologist about the right way to exfoliate.
In addition to washing your face, using tools like a natural sponge, a washcloth, or another exfoliating tool will add abrasive friction that will rub off dead layers more aggressively but still relatively gently. Look for natural abrasives in products, like salt, sugar, or oatmeal.
When you want to have a deeper treatment than your regular routine, there are options available, both over-the-counter and professional. Some at-home products contain hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid (AHA), salicylic acid (BHA), which are light acids that will help lift and dissolve dead skin. For professional treatments that can help smooth wrinkles, unclog pores, and remove layers of dead cells to show bright, young skin, ask your dermatologist about a chemical peel, laser resurfacing, and microdermabrasion.
Schedule an appointment with one of our skincare experts today to find out what exfoliation strategy would be best for you!